The influenza epidemic of 1918–20 was one of the deadliest events in recent human history, killing at least fifty million people worldwide and at least 675,000 Americans in just two years. Yet, because of government censorship during the pandemic and a lasting cultural silence about the flu, we still have a great deal to learn about this period. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, remembering the experience of the Spanish flu has become especially urgent. This essay argues that motion picture fan magazines, many of which are available digitally through the Media History Digital Library, are crucial archives of women’s experiences during the pandemic. Interactive sections of these publications gave readers—especially women and girls—rare opportunities to publicly share their own experiences with the flu. Celebrity “convalescing profiles” expressed anxieties and established expectations for women during the flu pandemic. Revisiting these publications today reveals the importance of celebrity and sites of fan engagement in forging ideas about illness and health.

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